Losing a loved one is a traumatic time. If you’ve been left in charge of their estate, that could add to your stress. However, you don’t need to handle the probate process alone. A probate lawyer from Farmer & Morris Law, PLLC, can manage your case from start to finish. We can provide you with guidance, support, and insight through this difficult period.
Working With a Probate Lawyer
Probate law is an oft-misunderstood area of law. However, we can simplify the probate process. With our help, you can direct your energy toward supporting your family and grieving your loved one’s death.
These are the services we provide to our probate clients:
- Managing communications associated with your case
- Assigning value to assets in your relative’s estate
- Discussing arrangements with creditors (someone owed money from your loved one’s estate)
- Ensuring your relative’s estate is split amongst the rightful heirs
- Selling assets to pay off creditors if needed
- Answering your questions
- Guiding you through the probate process
When you join our firm as a client, we will treat you with compassion, patience, and kindness. We believe it’s essential that you remain stress-free throughout the probate process.
Why Hire a Probate Lawyer?
There are several reasons why working with a probate lawyer could prove beneficial:
- Avoid familial conflict: The probate process can be tense, mainly if your relative passed away without a will. Hiring a lawyer can ensure the estate remains organized, reducing the chance of conflict arising.
- Respond to claims against the estate: After an individual passes, creditors and family members can file claims against their estate. With a lawyer’s help, you may be able to respond to these claims. In addition, your attorney can help you avoid interfamily lawsuits by keeping the process as transparent as possible.
- Prevent mistakes: Errors (like overpaying on debts) can be hard to avoid if you don’t understand probate law.
- Approach your probate case with confidence: Probate cases can be intimidating but don’t need to be. We can work by your side throughout your probate case, providing you with clarity and confidence.
What Is Probate Law?
You may seek a probate lawyer because you just lost an elderly loved one. First, if that’s the case, we’re deeply sorry about your loss. Second, you should know that it’s normal not to understand probate law.
Probate is a legal process that involves distributing the assets (belongings, property, material goods, and money) of an estate (assets held by a decedent) to rightful heirs and creditors. While probate cases often involve wills that name heirs, it’s possible your relative passed away without a will. Probate cases without a will are often more complicated.
Intestate Versus Testator
When a person passes away, they fall into one of two categories:
- Intestate: The person who passed away didn’t have a will.
- Testator: The person who passed did have a will.
If your loved one is a member of the testator category, the probate court will verify their will and use it to distribute assets to rightful heirs. However, if your loved one is intestate, a personal representative will distribute all the estate’s assets.
In cases without a will, relevant state inheritance laws kick in. These laws determine who is owed what after an individual passes away.
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Initiating the Probate Process
To start the probate process, you need the following documentation:
- The will (if there was one)
- A death certificate
- A preliminary inventory of the decedent’s assets
Then, you’ll bring this documentation to the relevant court in your area.
How Long does the Probate Process Take?
The duration of the probate process can vary considerably. It usually takes between a few months and one year. These factors can impact how long your probate process takes:
- The number of disagreements involved in the probate process
- The size of the decedent’s estate
- The complexity of the probate process
At Farmer & Morris Law, PLLC, we understand that you’re probably hoping to complete the probate process as soon as possible. Thus, a probate lawyer from our team can ensure your case stays on track without delay.
Personal Representatives and Probate Law
“Personal representative” is a catchall term that refers to someone in charge of a decedent’s estate. Typically, a will names a personal representative. However, the court can appoint one if your loved one doesn’t specify a personal representative. Personal representatives are often immediate family members of the decedent.
There are two primary types of personal representatives:
- Executor: Executors are appointed directly by the decedent through their will.
- Administrator: A local court will appoint an administrator if the decedent passes away without a will.
The specific personal representative titles vary depending on your state.
Responsibilities of a Personal Representative
Personal representatives are responsible for the following tasks:
- Assessing estate value: A personal representative will establish the estate’s value after a person passes away. Typically, there’s a deadline for this task.
- Managing the decedent’s financial obligations and assets: The personal representative oversees finding and securing all assets. This task can include supervising uninhabited property and contacting financial institutions in charge of investments and bank accounts.
- Contacting heirs and creditors: Personal representatives often must contact rightful heirs and creditors to notify them that the decedent has passed away. Then, they’re in charge of distributing the estate’s assets to heirs and creditors.
If you were assigned the position of a personal representative, our team could help you undertake these tasks.
Contact a Probate Lawyer Today
Ready to get started on your probate case? Our legal team is here to reduce your stress levels. Contact our offices today for a no-obligation case review. During this meeting, we can discuss your expectations and explain our legal services in more detail.